On the surface, I was calm: in secret, without really admitting it, I was waiting for something. Her return? How could I have been waiting for that? We all know that we are material creatures, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and not even the power of all our feelings combined can defeat those laws. All we can do is detest them. The age-old faith of lovers and poets in the power of love, stronger than death, that finis vitae sed non amoris, is a lie, useless and not even funny. So must one be resigned to being a clock that measures the passage of time, now out of order, now repaired, and whose mechanism generates despair and love as soon as its maker sets it going? Are we to grow used to the idea that every man relives ancient torments, which are all the more profound because they grow comic with repetition? That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox…

Must I go on living here then, among the objects we both had touched, in the air she had breathed? In the name of what? In the hope of her return? I hoped for nothing. And yet I lived in expectation. Since she had gone, that was all that remained. I did not know what achievements, what mockery, even what tortures still awaited me. I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past.

Stanisław Lem
Solaris

After a Death

June 26, 2020

Seeing that there’s no other way,
I turn his absence into a chair.
I can sit in it,
gaze out through the window.
I can do what I do best
and then go out into the world.
And I can return then with my useless love,
to rest,
because the chair is there.

Roo Borson

Clear sky; stars. I’m living in my father’s city.

Everything has an end except sometimes for some things that are not
                      things, like love.

So much waiting. I do Sudoku and listen for the poem.

One day, an old man appears at the end of the street. Is he my father,
                      come back?
He looks more like my grandfather, in his fedora.

I have questions no one answers.

I drive along the lake that is only here because glaciers aren’t anymore.
Whatever lesson that is, I don’t want it.

But that’s not a decision anyone gets to make.

The balloon flower blooms for the first time this year.
I clip the spent roses so more will come.

For a good while, my father was alive.

Mary Ann Samyn

Until Tomorrow

June 24, 2020

If you paint sadness
Will you paint it with the colours of a sunset
When the sun dives as bright as ever in the ocean
Still losing the battle against the night
Or will you paint it as a fading smile
Of a goodbye you never expected to say
When words collide with reality
And hope fades in the distance
If you paint sadness
Will you remember to add
A sprinkle of gentleness
We can all hang on
Until tomorrow

Laura Zucca-Scott

REMEDIES

June 23, 2020

You were the colour of a dove & I don’t know what to do
about that. I have never understood how to cup my hands

& take communion. Like a faithful daughter, I carry this
with me. I stab it with feathers & pray until it is covered

in gems. I rinse it in the river that knows my blood, wring
it out beneath a full moon. I know nothing about bird calls.

I know nothing about meat. Bless the river & all the fish
we poisoned. Foreign fluids. Bless the red birches forced

to watch. I want to burn something, so I char the flesh
of a catfish & think of myself. Girl as carp. Small tragedy

with freshwater pearls. I baptize myself in this water
& I see myself float in this water. Somewhere, a flock

of crows & I don’t hear anything over the soft breath
of river fish as they touch me in places that don’t exist.

Talin Tahajian

Chasing Ghosts

June 18, 2020

I saw you turn a corner,

But when I followed you were gone,

Then I thought I heard you call me,

But when I turned, there was no one
.

I saw you go into a shop,

I heard the bell above its door,

But when I went inside the shop,

There was no one in the store.

 

I thought I saw you at a picture show;

The film was an old romance,

But when I touched your shoulder,

I was greeted by a strangers glance.

 

I looked up from my coffee cup,

I was in a small café,

I had thought I heard you speaking,

But your voice was far away.

 

I see you everywhere I go,

I’m so lonely and so lost,

But I never will stop searching,

Though I know I’m chasing ghosts.

 

Ambrose Harte

Married

June 13, 2020

I came back from the funeral and crawled
around the apartment, crying hard,
searching for my wife’s hair.
For two months got them from the drain,
from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,
and off the clothes in the closet.
But after other Japanese women came,
there was no way to be sure which were
hers, and I stopped. A year later,
repotting Michiko’s avocado, I find
a long black hair tangled in the dirt.

Jack Gilbert

Matthew 5:4

May 5, 2020

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Take me. Take this. My wasted life and all
its bliss — the sea of your waking body

dawning with its warm grip on night’s wrist.
Your lips once curled into me. Your eyes

set me loose in a foggy lake. Loons call
to fill my deadened heart. To know

what loss is like you must lose everything,
you must lose even yourself, you said.

I am alone. Each night I lie and learn
to sing the dead back to life. Only they

can see what has been taken from me.
You are the bloodied cracks in my skin

so deep; I keep my hands together to hold
you in. Hear the damned prayers I reap.

Ruben Quesada

Love Again

April 24, 2020

Love again: wanking at ten past three
(Surely he’s taken her home by now?),
The bedroom hot as a bakery,
The drink gone dead, without showing how
To meet tomorrow, and afterwards,
And the usual pain, like dysentery.

Someone else feeling her breasts and cunt,
Someone else drowned in that lash-wide stare,
And me supposed to be ignorant,
Or find it funny, or not to care,
Even … but why put it into words?
Isolate rather this element

That spreads through other lives like a tree
And sways them on in a sort of sense
And say why it never worked for me.
Something to do with violence
A long way back, and wrong rewards,
And arrogant eternity.

Philip Larkin

FRIDAY

December 20, 2019

I have fallen into Friday and
never slept, like deep scars
hanging white the exhaust of
memory. Where long before
dawn, I missed the sheets
on an unmade bed, porcine
of undressed skin stitching
through threads. Fingers felt
to the length of hips where
denim thumbed the black, I
startle the moonrise giving
pale corseted with my window.
But it was easy to memorize
the nothing without feeling for
its wrinkle or smooth, where
I bore the hollow, got skinny in
my limbs stilling a girl from
spinning herself out of shadow.

Lana Bella